SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Western Massachusetts Catholics gathered at St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield Thursday afternoon to mark the end of the papacy of Benedict XVI.
Bishop Timothy McDonnell celebrated a special noontime Mass at the cathedral in honor of the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who has led the Church since 2005.
Around 100 parishioners attended the Mass, whose focus was on the future, just as much as the past.
"I'm here to pray for our new Pope, to be and also for him (Benedict XVI), too," Marilyn Stearns of Longmeadow said.
While Benedict's decision to resign is not technically unprecedented, no pope has stepped down from the papacy in more than 600 years, and no pope has done so voluntarily for an even longer period of time.
The papacy of Benedict XVI officially ended at 2:00 P.M. Saying that he is now a "simple pilgrim" in his final remarks as pontiff, Benedict left the Vatican and is currently living in the papal summer residence while awaiting the completion of his new quarters in Rome. His new title is His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.